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Barcelona played badly against Eintracht Frankfurt, but got lucky


Barcelona’s game against Frankfurt in the Europe League quarterfinal first leg started with a venomous shot from Ferran Torres, which was tipped stunningly over the bar by Trapp, the keeper who, with PSG, was beaten six times that famous night at the Camp Nou. Things looked promising for Xavi’s side, but the match did not continue in that vein. Barcelona were out of sorts for the whole of the first half, and it was only half-way through the second, after Xavi made the substations and especially after Tuta was sent off that they looked comfortable. Whether it was the state of the pitch, which Xavi and a number of players complained about (Barça are far too prissy about playing surfaces, footballers have to adapt), or because of an off day for several of their main players, the fact is they played badly.

Eintracht on the counter-attack

Frankfurt broke up Barcelona’s slow, dull football with lightning moves involving much of the team. Xavi had warned them the night before: they attack in waves. Ter Stegen had a number of heart-stopping moments, Sow missed the best chance and VAR saved Busquets from a penalty referee Srdjan Jovanovic had blown for far too hastily. The pardon was spot on. Busquets, who was certain he’d got ball and not leg, wandered away from his protesting teammates, convinced the review would come out in his favour. And so, with one incident following another, Barça reached the safety of half-time unscathed. But if Frankfurt had gone in a couple of goals to the good it wouldn’t have been unfair.

Worldie from Knauff

But the hosts’ goal had to come and it did at the start of the second half, when Knauff picked the ball up outside the area from a corner and fired home a stunning strike. Xavi then changed Adama and Gavi for Dembélé and De Jong and Barcelona did look a little better, the ultimate proof being a fine double one-two between De Jong and Ferran that saw the latter slot home. With De Jong in charge the game was fairly even, until Tuta was sent off, leading to Barcelona’s superiority in the final stages, with the visitors close to winning it. But they can’t complain, all things considered. Just as the home side weren’t complaining - they did a lap of honour for their cheering fans at the end. Drawing with Barcelona still means something.


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